As we sit deep in the summer off-season, NRL Rugby League is probably having it’s happiest off-season ever. David Gallop and those in the corridors of power at the NRL must be extremely happy as Rugby League headlines continue to arrive and continue discussions while the game enjoys its yearly rest
With talk of the upcoming World Cup of Rugby League, the Willie Mason / Bulldogs affair and more recently the Mark Riddell assault – Rugby League remains firmly in the media spotlight. While some may argue the reasons aren’t ideal, in the big bad world of marketing it doesn’t matter – any headline is a good headline. It’s the stuff marketers dream of, not only back page news; but pushing prime summer sports off the pages and tossing Rugby League to the forefront.
As a serious Rugby League fan you always dread the off-season, trying to take your mind off the waiting by watching some cricket or catching some off-season NRL replays, or even old Rugby League games on Fox’s ‘League Legends’ program.
However, us deprived Rugby League fans should not only be happy with the headlines being generated in the usual quiet season, but the overall outlook of the game is certainly back on the way up.
The wounds left from the Super League War continue to heal, we saw the Gold Coast Titans enter the NRL in 2007. In other areas we saw the struggling South Sydney Rabbitohs not only thrown a lifeline by Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court, but thrive. The Bunnies bolting into their first finals outing in many years.
Amalgmated clubs are working closely together and achieving much more impressive results for their fans, the quality of our game is sparkling with raw, talented juniors. Some may complain about the exodus to the UK Super League – this is directly due to the salary cap, and it means our teams are kept as even as possible and we continue to see the most even NRL tables year after year. As players take the cash in the UK Super League, there is always someone good enough ready to step up – it continues to happen, as we see the likes of Israel Folau, Kris Inu and Jarryd Hayne strutting their stuff for their Rugby League clubs.
In 2008, we not only see the return of quality NRL Rugby League to our screens – but it’s the centenary of Rugby League. A massive occasion to celebrate the game we love – “The Greatest Game of All” and we are set to be spolit with the hosting of the Rugby League World Cup, and facing possibly the strongest British Lions side in many, many years. The Lions totally dominated the Kiwi side and are setting their sights on the fancied Australian side – it’s truly a feast of Rugby League in 2008, starting with the Challenge Cup where the Melbourne Storm will travel to the UK to face the Leeds Rhinos in a match where the Australian team starts as underdogs for once; facing the problems of foreign soil, weather and lack of match play.
While somethings in Rugby League won’t change in 2008; such as the long delay leaving Leichhardt Oval by car, or Nathan Brown facing another year with plenty calling for his head, the interruption of major injuries to players and their teams and of course Bill Harrigan making the big calls from his eye in the sky.
All we need now to put the icing on the cake for 2008, is for Tina Turner to make a come back and give us her famous Rugby League Anthem “Simply the Best” in what would be a sensational advertising package, that would keep us rocking along during another great year of Rugby League. Yep, it will always be “The Greatest Game of All!”